Sunday, January 10, 2016

Week 1 NFL playoff notes

The first round of the 2015 NFL playoffs saw all four road teams win, only one of which I wanted to. As such:

Chiefs 30 Titans 0. During their current lengthy winning streak, the Chiefs have had the good fortune of playing a soft schedule, and why should anything be different in the first round of the playoffs? The odd thing is that the Titans had a higher ranked offense and defense than the Chiefs, so a little “exposure” might occur? Fat chance of that. The Titans started four different quarterbacks this season and to say that Brian Hoyer was deemed the best of that sorry lot to start this game is only to say that quantity trumps quality on bad teams. At any rate, you have to give the Chiefs credit for taking advantage of their opportunities—mainly from Hoyer’s four interceptions and fumble.

Steelers 18 Bengals 16. This wasn’t the only game this weekend where the wrong team won. The Steelers played the hare to the Bengals’ tortoise, and managed to nose out in the end mainly because of coaching blunders on the Bengals’ side and questionable judgment calls by Mr. McGoo officials that benefited the Steelers. I mean, what the hell was Steelers linebacker coach Joey Porter doing in the middle of field during an injury time out on the Steelers last possession? He was yelling and screaming at Bengals’ players, and the officials just let him carry on until Pacman Jones shoved him in response, penalizing him 15-yards (on top of a 15-yard “unnecessary roughness” penalty) to put the Steelers into game-winning field goal range. Without the aid of a pass interference penalty, the Steelers advanced from 47-yard line on an incomplete pass to the Bengals’ 17 just like that. Before that, the Bengals’ AJ McCarron was suddenly playing like a clutch pro in the fourth quarter after Marvin Lewis and his offensive coordinator realized it was getting late in the day to play it “safe.”  But with Bengals up 16-15 and with the ball with less than two minutes from victory despite all the sideline incompetence, the McGoos in stripes and in the replay booth had to scramble to justify upholding a bogus fumble that gave the Steelers their last shot.

Seahawks 10 Vikings 9. This one really irritated me because I dislike the Seahawks and their annoying partisans more than the Vikings. I listened all week to local sports commentators laugh at and demean the Vikings chances of winning this game, played in minus-3 degree weather. The Seahawks should have put up one fat goose egg when all was said done, trailing 9-0 heading into the fourth quarter, and particularly when a snap went over Russell Wilson’s head, which was about the size of the Seahawks’ play during the game up to that point. But once more Wilson pulled a miracle out of his fundament, and suddenly the score was 9-7. Adrian Peterson then fumbled in his own end, and the Seahawks were up 10-9. But all was not lost; Teddy Bridgewater actually completed a couple of balls downfield, Petersen held onto the ball, and suddenly the Vikings were a 27-yard field goal away from shutting up all those annoying people. Unfortunately, Vikings’ kicker Blair Walsh, who had kicked three field goals, took a rather longer stride than necessary, almost sliding into his kick which incomprehensibly sailed wide left when he was aiming far right. I hate that guy.

Packers 35 Redskins 18. The Redskins were up at one point 11-0 and Aaron Rodgers was 1 for 8 passing. A tiresome refrain this season, but somehow Rodgers and the offense were touched as if by some supernatural power and played like a good team for once, out-scoring the Redskins 35-7 the remainder of the game. But this was, after all, against a team that was in the playoffs only because they were playing in the worst division outside the AFC South. Rodgers ended the game throwing for only 210 net yards on 36 pass attempts—less than six yards per attempt—and I saw nothing that convinces me that the Packers returned to “form” to give the Cardinals a run for their money next week.

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